Friday, June 20, 2014

Playing the Irritation Game

The central mountain range from the river far below.

It is my contention that one of the Ma Administration's central foreign policy tendencies is to irritate relations with Japan and the United States whenever possible. This policy was thrown into harsh relief this week by twin actions in Tokyo and Beijing. First, a misprinted name in a Tokyo National Palace Museum exhibition caused an uproar in the Presidential Office in Taiwan... (FocusTaiwan):
Controversy erupted when some posters advertising the exhibition were found to refer to the NPM as simply "Palace Museum, Taipei" an apparent violation of the agreement between Taiwan and Japan that the museum's full name must be used in all publicity materials.

According to the Presidential Office, President Ma Ying-jeou has instructed the NPM to demand the Tokyo museum correct the situation, and the government's stance has been conveyed to Tokyo by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Taiwan government said that there was no room for negotiation and the exhibition would be canceled if things weren't corrected. Petty politics at its best. Meanwhile last week Beijing forwarded a document to the UN claiming Taiwan and Penghu. The Taipei Times editorialized bluntly:
When Beijing, at a UN tribunal over tensions concerning sovereignty in the South China Sea, included Taiwan and Penghu as part of its territorial claims, nobody in the government reacted or uttered a single word in response. When pressed about this by the media, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) merely said: “We protested this 55 years ago.”
An exhibition leaves out a word, the Presidential Office goes on the warpath. China claims Taiwan and Penghu? Silence. No doubt the silence was one part agreement that Taiwan is part of China -- a stance which the Administration avoids reminding the public of and one part avoidance of reminding the public why Taiwan isn't a UN state. When the coming generation comes of age, the UN issue is going to be revisited, with a vengeance....

UPDATE FocusTaiwan latest...
Ben Goren of Letters from Taiwan observes in a private communication:
"The posters in question, which have been spotted at train stations and parks in Tokyo, were prepared by a media sponsor group comprising major media outlets including NHK, the Asahi Shimbun and other TV stations and newspapers. Meanwhile, official posters and brochures prepared by the Tokyo National Museum refer to the Taipei museum by its official name." - so why is the Ma govt complaining to Tokyo and not the media group in question? like you said, easy to pick a fight with a friend than stand up to a bully.
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Ben Goren said...

Actually, I read that a MOFA rep named Kao did respond to the UN thing but can't remember where I saw that. The response was along the lines of 'this was sorted out in 1955 and that ROC is sovereign nation' so I'm not sure where TT Ed got the silence thing from. Still, the response was weak so your main point is still valid.

Whirled Peas said...

Sorry, perhaps I need another cup of coffee, but can someone explain to me what the significance of Ma's insisting the museum be called National Palace Museum instead of Palace Museum of Taipei? And why is Ma so upset (or feigning indignation)? By "national" is Ma attempting to subtly transition the museum to be viewed as being under the umbrella of the PRC, or as uniquely Taiwan's as a whole; or is he just trying to give more weight to the museum by making it a national instead of a city museum (e.g. National Gallery of Art vs. LA museum). Why not National Taiwan Palace Museum?

Anonymous said...

Whirled Peas, just two words to explain it all: campaign time

(aka "I assure you I'm really Taiwanese")

Anonymous said...

National Palace Museum of which nation?

Four choices:
1. ROC
2. Taiwan
3. China
4. None of the above.

And the winner is...
Chinese Taipei !!!

- cbo

Readin said...

I don't a big fault with the Ma government on this one. The UN is a useless organization where Taiwan has no pull at all. Protesting UN BS would imply that the UN is worth protesting, and would remind everyone how powerless Taiwan is to do anything about the UN. Maybe it would be worth mentioning just to remind everyone that Taiwan isn't part of China, but would anyone even notice?

On the other hand, the government had an agreement that Taiwan would be treated with respect in return for cooperating on the exhibition. Demanding that the terms of a contract be followed on an issue that touches national sovereignty is not overreacting. And there is actually some hope of making a difference.

While I'm tempted to fault Ma on his defending the "National" in National Palace Museum when we know that "National" for him likely refers to China rather than Taiwan (particularly when the museum is full of Chinese rather than Taiwanese treasure), Ma isn't the guy who came up with the name. Given that the name was already there, what would a right wing Taiwanese like Chen or Lee do that would be any better?

Readin said...

I guess there is one thing Taiwanese right-wingers could do for the UN situation if they held the presidency - something I've advocated before - make a habit of pointing out that Taiwan is an independent country and is not a UN member and therefore not obligated to follow any UN rules or decisions.